Last Wednesday I wrote about writing what I know. I guess I should come clean and admit (to you and to myself) that I have based more than a few of my character’s issues on my life experiences. A lot – most of it - is soon deleted because it really has nothing to do with the story line, but it is very therapeutic to puke it up and put it on paper. I’ve exorcised more than a few demons through my writing. Here’s one…
“Christine” found the military to be a sexist place to work. There are few truer truths. We all pretend women get equal billing in the military, but this is simply not true. Sexual harassment is alive and well despite all the mandatory training (hell, I came in at a time when it was not only prevalent but also accepted and expected. Nothing – NOTHING – was done about it. Nothing.). Sex discrimination was something I dealt with almost every single day in one way or another. All the while I had to pretend it WASN’T HAPPENING. I was expected to do my job and SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP.
Maybe I was too sensitive. No…I wasn’t, because I didn’t let it bother me - then. It was far easier to ignore it. I learned to roll with the punches and MAN UP. But, in writing this story, I’ve discoverd it must have bothered me far more than I realized. Or, maybe it’s just good story fodder. Either way, it's in there. To quote myself:
"Although plenty of women served, the ones that succeeded did so by conforming to the male way. By slowly but surely whittling away at their femininity, many even started to look like men. Few women she’d ever worked with, especially on the ships, wore makeup or did their hair – nothing. Nearly every female senior officer she’d ever worked for was tough as nails, some even bordered on mannish. It was easier to blend in – to camouflage."
Disclaimer: Query 100 women who have served or still are serving in the military, and you will get 100 individual opinions. This is just one. Mine.